Toyota Kluger Rally SA Snippets
The Toyota Kluger Rally of South Australia was once again a real feather in the Australian Rally Championship’s cap.
RallySport Magazine were there to capture all the action, and bring you our tales "From Behind the Bunting".
Young Victorian driver Brendan Reeves learnt a hard lesson on Sunday. After leaving the keys to his rally car in his motel room, a mad dash was required to collect them, resulting in Reeves leaving Parc Ferme late. A 30-second penalty was the punishment for his crime.
Reeves also had a story to tell on Saturday after being followed, and then pulled over, by a policeman on a transport stage. According to Reeves, the man in blue was questioning the non-existence of a front number plate, but eventually let him go without a fine. As many of the other ARC competitors were also without front number plates, Reeves wondered why it was him that got the talking to. Wrong place, wrong time, maybe.
Steve Glenney challenged championship leader, Simon Evans, all weekend, and the two were the only real contenders for outright honours. Glenney, though, suffered a double dose of bad luck on Sunday. On the first stage of the day, which was run in thick fog, his windscreen fogged up, causing him to nudge a bank and spin, resulting in a flat tyre. About 25 seconds were lost. He came back full of steam, though, winning stages 18 and 19, and really put the pressure on Evans. After another flat tyre on the second last stage, which lost him more time, Evans was finally able to take the honours from last year’s rally winner, by just 19.1 seconds. The result could have been a lot different.
Evans, meanwhile, had an interesting companion for his trip to the men’s room after the rally. He was seen heading to the loo with a small bottle and was followed by a gent keenly awaiting his ‘sample’. Just in case it wasn’t the control fuel he was using, perhaps?
Eli Evans showed his talent early on Sunday, fighting with big brother Simon for the lead in the first couple of stages. His rally didn’t turn out to be quite as successful as Simon’s though, with Eli’s Subaru cutting out mid-way through the day, resulting in instant retirement. A hard landing after a jump is thought to have caused damage to his fuel pump.
Another privateer showing plenty of promise is Glen Raymond. He finished Heat 1 in ninth place, and set a sixth fastest stage time on the first of Heat 2’s stages. Heartbreak was to follow, though, when a brand new part on his Subaru broke, and he, too, was forced to retire.
Molly Taylor was thankful for the friendly spectators on the SA stages. She came into a corner a little too fast, and in order to save the front end of her tiny Mirage, spun and went off the road backwards. Luckily, she and co-driver Dale Moscatt were able to be pushed back on to the road, where they continued on their merry way until a tyre popped off its rim. A few minutes were lost while they changed the tyre, but they were still able to hold their outright placing, finishing the Heat in 18th. It was another great drive from Taylor, whose Mirage boasts a lot less power than the 4WDs she regularly beats.
Darren Windus, driving the second factory Ford Fiesta, had what could only be described as the week from hell. After engine problems in testing, Windus’ car completed just two runs on the media day before succumbing to gearbox failure. Then, just as day one was heating up, his Ford ground to a halt with engine failure. A fuming Windus was last seen heading back to the Adelaide Airport for an early flight home to Perth.
Dean Herridge put in a terrific performance over the weekend, especially when you consider he was quite sick during Saturday’s stages. Herridge spent quite a deal of time sitting on the toilet during the early hours of Saturday morning, and while he managed to get through Heat 1, he was as white as a sheet and admitted to feeling terrible. He was in much better health on Sunday, and was rewarded with third place for the weekend.
Toyota’s Neal Bates hit a kangaroo on Saturday, but didn’t see the roo until it slammed into the front of his S2000 Corolla. The damage looked bad, but didn’t slow him down. A slow start in the fog on Sunday had him in eighth place, but he soon made his way back through the field, taking fourth place. His brand new Corolla again ran faultlessly in just its second event – a real credit to the team at Neal Bates Motorsport.
Spencer Lowndes had a nervous start to the rally after scrutineers accidentally triggered his on-board fire extinguisher system, emptying the contents over his Lancer Evo 9. A quick call to Toyota soon had a replacement installed in the privateer’s Lancer, but we hear that the scrutineers will be receiving a bill for the refilling of the original extinguisher!
RallySport Magazine positioned themselves on a fast piece of road towards the end of the 21km Eden High stage. Showing his intimate knowledge of the road, Steve Glenney was amazing to watch. He appeared sideways over a crest, around three feet in the air. After passing our junction he disappeared out of sight, holding his Impreza flat over a blind crest that everyone else backed off for, or applied their brakes for. It was incredible to watch, and was reminiscent of watching Marcus Gronholm on the Rally of Finland. It was not surprising that he finished the stage 21 seconds faster than Simon Evans.
The Toyota Kluger Rally of South Australia had a vast array of rally cars, which fans at the two Super Special Stages at Angaston were treated to watching. Everything from Ford Escorts, Datsun 260Zs, Mitsubishi Sigmas, Daihatsu Charades and even a Mercedes Benz. But as expected, it was the Super 2000 Ford Fiestas and Toyota Corolla that got the biggest cheers. Even first time spectators were voicing their approval, commenting that the noisy S2000 cars were a lot more exciting than “those quiet turbo things”.